Recommendations to keep young gymnasts injury free

Gymnastics requires tremendous physical ability. Power, flexibility, and balance help gymnasts perform the acrobatic stunts and tumbling passes characteristic of the sport. These maneuvers can cause injuries, though.

We might not be able to prevent all of the traumatic injuries in gymnastics, but we can decrease some of the overuse injuries that occur. Some of the common overuse injuries in the sport include Osgood-Schlatter’s syndrome, Sever’s disease, spondylolysis of the lumbar spine, osteochondritis dissecans of the capitellum, and distal radius epiphysitis.

Parents, coaches and young gymnasts should remember some simple tips to prevent these overuse injuries.

Vary your routines. Overuse injuries result from too much stress on the same parts of the body without enough time to rest. Vary the exercises and training to move stresses to different parts of your body.

Take a day off when you need to. Kids don’t have the muscle strength that high school or college gymnasts have or that adults have. All of theKeep young gymnasts injury free PINrepetitive stress goes to their bones and joints. You shouldn’t train every single day without rest.

Don’t train or compete through pain. In youth baseball, the risk of surgery significantly increases if you pitch through pain. The same trend is likely true in gymnastics. Most pain is not serious and goes away with a short period of rest, activity modification, physical therapy. Keep training and you risk suffering a serious injury.

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Tell parents and coaches you are hurting. Kids want to compete. Plus they don’t want to let their parents and coaches down. So they often won’t tell you they are hurting. Open the lines of communication. Start talking about whether they are having fun and other innocent topics. Your kids will eventually open up and tell you if they are hurting. Coaches can pay attention for subtle signs of pain in the gymnasts as well.

Get pain checked out. So many athletic people – young and old – don’t want to go to a doctor or see an orthopaedic surgeon out of fear of being shut down. Or you are afraid of being told you need surgery. Most of the time we can get people back to sports without surgery. If there is doubt about an injury, get it checked out. And better yet, take these steps to avoid having problems in the first place.

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david-headshot I am an orthopaedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist in Charleston, South Carolina.

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